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New build, all sorts of choices, and questions -- TLDR alert

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Oct 18, 2005
Chicago Burbs
I've been out of the PC assembling game for a long time and plan to start ordering parts in 2-3 weeks for my new personal rig. I would like some commentary and advice on the stuff I present here. It seems there are a wide range of choices which I have not spent months/years soaking up information on and/or testing via builds ;) Research is ongoing but perhaps someone here can help shorten the learning curve a bit. This is a very TLDR style post which is my usual M.O. I love overthinking everything so hopefully some one here does too (what fun are simplified solutions when it comes to PCs right?).

My tentative budget is up to $1200 give or take to put together what I would consider the core system. This will include the case, PSU, CPU, mobo, RAM, at least one SSD, at least one HDD, HSF, any misc fans/wires/supplies/controllers/etc to get it going. To start with I'll be using a friend's video card. I'm going for top-end single thread performance (minus hardcore bleeding edge overclocking), decent/good multicore, and a high quality mobo/case/PSU/overall-build platform that will give me many years of (probably) reliable service. Once I get the core build out of the way I plan on concentrating my funds elsewhere for quite some time, so what I build is what I'll be living with for quite some time. Over time I may add more SDDs, HDDs, fans, controllers, lights, new vid card/s, but that may be a long ways off.

Regardless of response to this thread, I am continuing to build a giant list of prospective parts and prices, however I cringe at the thought of deciding between various CPUs and the resulting plethora of motherboard/RAM/chipset options that would result, especially if the CPUs are of similar performance capabilities and prices.

My biggest areas of confusion are deciding on which CPU to go with, and the resulting (or not) platform in terms of sockets, motherboards, RAM type, chipsets and all that jazz. However, there may be some assumptions about other things I make here which may be incorrect. Please correct those if you see them. Some categories I cover may be nitpicks or simply too subject to personal taste or infinite variety, but have been presented in case anyone has any commentary and bothers to read them ^_^

Some priorities:
CPU - Budget: I'm guessing i'd pay up to around $350 for a CPU, but might go lower/higher if a considerable bang/buck

Single Thread - high single thread performance is a top priority, I'd definitely want something that's high in the CPU model rankings. Not trying to hit big bench numbers or anything, just want good single threading. I'm willing to overclock (doesn't need to be extreme by any means, just a nice, solid OC, 80% results 20% effort), but at this time not willing to modify boards/heatsinks or delid CPUs. I'll be using whatever is one of the highest performing heatsinks and hopefully be strapping a couple 120x38mm fans on it to run not super loud but definitely not silent either.

Multicore Processing - at the moment I'm not particularly concerned about immense multicore processing jobs, but I also don't want to be left with my pants around my ankles in this respect, so definitely looking at least at quadcore. In the near future, though, I may wish to record a lot of videos of gaming or even do stuff like live streaming and recording from a web cam + recording the games, and potentially do some heavy editing and such. While I'm not looking to maximize on that performance like it's paying my bills, if I can at least be able to not be gimped in that category, that would be wonderful. If I can gain a substantial multicore processing upgrade (compared to a different CPU choice) without adding much money or losing more than a tiny bit of single thread performance, I might opt for that.

Other CPU considerations - I've noticed some of the new Intel CPUs have some kind of integrated graphics processing capabilities. Is this avoidable? I'd imagine this only adds to cost, heat generation, power usage, and complication potentials. Or does it not cause any of these problems? What's the deal with that?

GPU - At the moment my friend's video card will be meeting my requirements just fine. If they change in the future, however, I will want the ability to use, if desired, a high end video card for games. Not part of current budget though.

RAM - I plan to have a ****load of RAM, at least 64 GB if not over 100+ GB. If it ends up being way too much, it won't bother me unless I spent a huge amount on it. Not only do I plan to have lots of stuff running at once, but I wish to run many things off a RAM drive and use special software to help manage, automate and optimize this. I do not know if I will notice a difference using different tiers/types of RAM, or going with dual/quad/whatever channels. I don't know whether this much RAM will be cost prohibitive. If I can help it, I want RAM sticks with activity LEDs on them ^_^ (if RAM product choice doesn't really matter much like in the past, this is a high priority)

SSDs - To start with I'll have at least one SSD, but maybe go with 2 or more, to potentially run in RAID either for pure performance, redundancy, or both. IIRC some controllers are capable of making RAID 1 double in both read and write performance. Write doubling would be initially splitting the write between both before filling in the redundancy in the background, right? I would lose the extra space from RAID 0 but retain performance. I would say ~512 GB to work with would be the minimum. This would be for all stuff that I need read to the RAM disk + all core software/data/caching that needs maximum read/write performance.

It seems SSD capacity, performance, and price has improved dramatically in the last several years. Even the cheap ones offer surprisingly high performance/capacity. I'll probably stick to the basic ones since they seem to have a higher prospect for reliability and being problem-free. The bleeding edge type SSDs seem to be more likely to be either expensive and/or have some problems to deal with.

HDDs - I'd either start with 2 HDDs, one for current main mass storage + low performance caching (automatic streaming/dumping of persistent data updates from RAM disk to avoid stressing SSD for low performance priority operations, etc). The other for backing up old HDDs and some main HDD data. Eventually I'd add in a few more HDDs and set up some kind of array or multiple arrays, probably purely for redundancy + large capacity, but those aren't part of the core $1200 budget.

As far as HDD choice goes, I will probably go with capacities that give me the biggest bang for the buck, or close to it if larger capacity, and have very large amounts of good reviews + very low defective rate, and are late revision drives. A good example would be WD Black drives that have been out for a long time. Initial capacity per drive probably will need to be at least 1 TB.

Motherboard - Probably willing to potentially spend $300 or even more if it offers significant improvements over the cheaper ones for what I want. Full size is fine, preferable even. I don't need something on the bleeding edge of performance/overclocking, but what I do need is something that is high quality, reliable, very low on defect potential, and isn't suffering from stuff like quirky finicky boards that all act different (yea, those can be fun in other contexts), and isn't suffering from other such problems. It also needs to be good for overclocking, and more features/convenience is better.

Raw Performance - I don't think I'd care if one significantly more expensive motherboard offered a few percent more performance in some category over another, but if it's a substantial difference maybe I would care.

I/O Controller - A good integrated raid controller/s would be nice. Don't think I want to deal with any standalone controllers at this time. That would probably be above my price/effort/time range at this time. Needs to support whatever huge amount of RAM I'm gonna be using. Win 7 maxes out at 192 GB right? If RAM channels/spec turns out to be important (maybe it won't be) then the mobo needs to be able to handle that properly as well.

Video Adapter Slots - It's possible any motherboard that would be particularly satisfying to me will automatically have at least 2 graphics slots, but maybe not. I'm not married to the idea of multiple video card potential, though. I just figure most of the higher tier, well featured boards would be set up for multiple video cards anyway.

Chipset/Platform - This is my biggest source of confusion. On one hand, I don't want to go with a hot new platform that is likely to be more expensive, buggy, unproven, and have a host of other potential issues that haven't been worked out yet. On the other hand, I don't want to go with a platform that is old enough that it's already a sinking ship.

Integrated Sound Device - To start with, getting a standalone sound card would add another layer of complexity to this build, but if a superior motherboard choice is without integrated sound, that is fine. While I'm not the biggest fan of integrated sound devices, as long as they don't present any noise/interference/bleed problems that would be ok for now.

Looks - Believe it or not, the way the motherboard looks may be a deciding factor if all other things are relatively equal. After all, I will be seeing it through the case window. Some mobos look amazing, some, rather ugly.

Case - Definitely not skimping on the case. Would spend up to $300 give or take, but I'm seeing some significantly cheaper ones that don't seem to be a particularly meaningful downgrade from the higher price tiers for my purposes. I'm completely overwhelmed with the immense amount of nice looking, well featured, and seemingly good cases out there.

Size/Shape - Ideally it will be a mid or full tower. Very spacious inside in case of massive full/over-sized video cards. Anything taller or deeper than 24" may be problematic though, but if not much more than that would be considered if it was superior in some significant way in my price range.

Looks - Preferably black or dark. Large side window. Nothing solidly blocking intake fans except for filters, grills, etc. No chic minimalism, but also no extreme modern art pieces. Something that looks more industrial/military or perhaps techy/futuristic could be good, doesn't need to be fancy. Sometimes the most basic case designs end up being the best looking.

Storage Device Bays - The ability to hold at least 6 storage drives in bays dedicated for that purpose. These bays preferably would be able to hold both HDDs and SSDs and be sitting in front of intake fans, or at least have half the drives in front of them. Tool-less and without requiring adapters preferred, but not necessary if the case has other advantages.

Fan Mounts - It would be strongly preferred to be able to mount at least 2 x 120x38mm fans as intakes, and be able to mount these same types of fans elsewhere. Prefer no fan mounts on the side. Being able to use 120x38mm with any given fan location is my top pick. Though I can always elect to go with 25mm if I want something more for looks than pressure/performance. I'm not 100% dead set on this type of fan mount setup, but if I can get it without having to take any serious hit in other aspects, I'll probably go for that.

5.25" Bays - 3 is the bare minimum, but more is better.

Carrying Handles - always a +

Headphone hanger (fold-in/retractable) - always a +

Power Supply - Definitely not skimping here either. I'd prefer to get something that is well above wattage spec compared to the maximum potential needs of the system. While that may or may not be good for reaching peak efficiency, I'd imagine it's great to maximize PSU lifespan, and minimize heat, strain and instability. I will likely pick something that has had the best reviews from the best test sites. I'm thinking one decently overclocked quad+ core high single thread performace CPU, maybe up to two high end video cards, possibly overclocked as well, a bunch of semi-powerful but not extreme fans, and several HDDs/SDDs.

Not sure if there are modulars that test as well as non-modulars, but if there are, I might prefer that. High efficiency is a plus as well, but that would be predicated on using a certain % capacity to achieve such efficiency. I might be using a very low % of capacity, especially at first. I'd imagine the PSU will cost at least $100 but might be up to $200. If more than that I might consider just going for a less over-the-top PSU for the time being.

Sometimes you get lucky and a great PSU also looks amazing too, so that could be a +.
Holy cow..... it really isn't that hard.. :p

Perhaps I missed it in the wall of text, but, what are you actually using your PC for? What is your total budget for the parts you need?


1. PSU - Don't oversize for giggles. You are just wasting money. A single Intel CPU and single GPU you can easily run with a 650W quality PSU (suggesting EVGA G3 650W) and overclock and have plenty of headroom. If you end up with 2 GPUs, go 750W. Modular/non modular, no difference... minutia.

2. I wont touch cases...

3. Most any mobo will do, honestly. Doubt you will need to spend $300 on that...

4. Interesting choice a ramdisk and raid... niche uses for most honestly. On one you have seem to want reliable and simple, yet we are looking at RAID and ramdisk.. etc. A little ironic on that front.

5. Since its not for money, stick with a 7700K and a Z270 based board. Grab an M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD (Samsung 960 Evo, OCZ RD400, or Patriot Hellfire).

6. Ram.. Why oh why so much ram is a great question... I see ramdisk, etc, but... to what end.. consider that first before you drop the knot on a ton of ram you likely wont use. :)
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